Paypal will start accepting bitcoin payments through its subsidiary, Braintree, the company has announced.
The firm is partnering with bitcoin payment platform Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin companies, which already handles payments for clients including Overstock and Reddit.
“This is PayPal making a move to embrace bitcoin,” Bill Ready, Braintree’s CEO, told the Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
The integration of bitcoin means companies that already use Braintree to run their payments will be able to accept bitcoin in the coming months without changing their configuration, a move that could boost adoption of the cryptocurrency.
Braintree already handles transactions by companies including Uber, AirBnB and Dropbox.
“We had a lot of developers tell us they’d love to add bitcoin,” Coinbase’s CEO, Brian Armstrong, told Techcrunch. “But Braintree would handle all of their payments and they didn’t want to add another SDK. They would say that if Braintree added it, they would add it.”
Merchants wanting to accept bitcoin payments will still need to set up a Coinbase wallet but they will have the option to instantly convert every bitcoin payment back into fiat currency.
Braintree’s support for bitcoin follows the announcement of bitcoin adoption by a competitor, Stripe, back in March. Stripe’s bitcoin facility operates already, albeit in a closed beta, and the company handles payments itself, rather than partnering with a third-party.
“Bitcoin fits in nicely with Stripe’s product plan,” Collison told the Guardian in March. “Credit cards are a good first thing to roll out because they have such widespread penetration but we don’t bill ourselves as a credit card processing company, we’re a payments company.”
As for Paypal itself, the company is keeping bitcoin at an arm’s length. The integration with Braintree won’t affect customers or merchants with Paypal accounts and, from the consumer side, Braintree has little public profile. But the change “opens the door for PayPal to integrate bitcoin into its main wallet functionality,” Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Bloomberg.